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Cognitive Developmental Milestones: By the End of 3, 4, and 5 Years

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Updated on Dec 8, 2010

Is your child on track in terms of his cognitive development? While every child develops at his own pace, here are some typical cognitive milestones during the preschool years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

By the end of 3 years (36 months):

  • Makes mechanical toys work
  • Matches an object in her hand or room to a picture in a book
  • Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people
  • Sorts objects by shape and color
  • Completes puzzles with three or four pieces
  • Understands concept of "two"

By the end of 4 years (48 months):

  • Correctly names some colors
  • Understands the concept of counting and may know a few numbers
  • Tries to solve problems from a single point of view
  • Begins to have a clearer sense of time
  • Follows three-part commands
  • Recalls parts of a story
  • Understands the concepts of "same" and "different"
  • Engages in fantasy play

By the end of 5 years (60 months):

  • Can count 10 or more objects
  • Correctly names at least four colors
  • Better understands the concept of time
  • Knows about things used every day in the home (money, food, appliances)
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